Letters

Letters How about fair news reporting?

To the editor:

Most newspapers draw a line between the politics and editorial views of the editor and reporting the news.

Not the Plain Talk.

All readers recognize the Republican slant of the Plain Talk. We would be amazed if you agreed with a Democratic leader or his or her views. But what is disturbing is that you regularly editorialize the news.

It's not enough to unfairly attack Rep. B.J. Nesselhuf on the editorial page. You also turned your Feb. 14 front page story about the previous Saturday's legislators' forum into a second editorial, where the same arguments masquerade as a news report.

The 50 or so residents who attended the forum know that residents and lawmakers devoted the first hour of the session to discussing education, prison over-crowding and Gov. Rounds' bill to subvert the authority of counties to plan and zone. Yet your thousand-word story didn't so much as mention that these issues were raised.

Your pet issue was raising taxes. The Democratic representatives think we should spend $23 million of the state's $115 million reserve first. You, the Republican representative and the governor think we should raise taxes now.

It's certainly a debatable issue, but isn't it funny how raising taxes is a good idea when Republicans do it? And I don't recall your editorials ever suggesting that we should overhaul our tax structure, since we are among the most regressive taxation states in the nation. I don't believe I've heard you suggest we should tax corporations or high-income residents. By the way, didn't you support eliminating the inheritance tax, which is largely responsible for the current shortfall?

Perhaps an honest discussion of tax issues should also include some mention of the budget mess Republican ex-Gov. Janklow left, and the bigger economic mess and massive deficits Republican President Bush is creating.

I don't expect you to agree with me, or to change your views. You have every right to express them � honestly � on the editorial page. But the people who buy your newspaper do have the right to expect that you report the news, rather than editorialize it.

Jerry Wilson

Vermillion, SD

Daschle thanks Clay County residents

To the editor:

I want to thank the residents of Clay County who took time to visit with Stephanie Devitt of my Sioux Falls staff during her recent trip to Vermillion and Irene. Her report on issues of interest and concern in that area was valuable to me. She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to help serve lunch at the Vermillion Senior Center.

In addition to my annual practice of visiting constituents in every county in South Dakota, my staff makes regular trips to communities throughout our state. These outreach visitors provide South Dakotans with the opportunity to seek assistance with a problem they may have with a federal agency or pass along opinions about issues before Congress.

One of my most important duties in Washington is to help constituents cut through government red tape, and I encourage every resident to contact my service office in Sioux Falls (605/334-9596) with any questions or concerns.

Due to the October 2001 anthrax attack on my Washington office, mail to all of my offices � both in Washington and in South Dakota � is subjected to mandatory screening that delays its delivery by at least three weeks. As a result, constituents needing assistance should call, email (tom_daschle@daschle.senate.com) or fax (605/334-2591). For more information, go to my Web site at http://www.senate. gov/~daschle.

Your input is invaluable as I represent you in the United States Senate. Thanks again for the hospitality shown to Stephanie.

With best wishes, I am

Sincerely,

Tom Daschle

United States Senate

Tax increases not necessary

To the editor:

Recently, Rep. Nesselhuf was upbraided for being against taxes and accused of being fiscally irresponsible. That is not true.

Five weeks ago, Gov. Rounds gave a speech outlining our current budget difficulties for the fiscal year we are still in. It was suggested by the governor that our current budget hole was $36 million. Since then we have found out that our sales tax collections are up 7.16 percent compared to January 2002 and our contractor's excise tax is up 7.03 percent over the same period. For the entire fiscal year to date, sales taxes are up 3.14 percent and the contractor's excise tax is up 5.56 percent and that's the good news.

The bad news is that still leaves us with a $9 million hole. However, that means that $27 million of reserve that we were considering using this year is available for other purposes. That savings of reserve money could be used to fund the Lonetree settlement, as an example. No increase in taxes to build reserves is necessary.

In addition, the trust funds that the governor suggested five weeks ago would yield no funds now do have earnings. We now have information that suggests the cement plant fund will provide the traditional $12 million to the general fund, so those funds need not be "made up" either in reserves or in other taxes. The health care fund will yield $1.2 million to help off set our additional Medicaid expense. That's not enough, but it is a start and money we didn't think would be available at all.

The tobacco trust fund for education is projected to yield $6 million, which is almost equal to the $7.3 million in additional, general fund, outside the formula monies that the governor has suggested should go to education. As a result, any need for additional taxes this year is certainly mitigated, at the very least.

The Appropriations Committee hasn't finished their work and the comptroller has only begun his. What harm is done in waiting a year to consider tax increases? We have additional revenues from trust funds and growth in our tax base.

We have efficiency measures that haven't yet been given a chance to work, that could reduce expenditures further. These items suggest that tax increases are premature at best, unnecessary at worst � which is Rep. Nesselhuf's position.

Sincerely,

Mel Olson

House Minority Leader

State Representative

District 20

Mitchell

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